Canadian youth international Ballou Tabla is leaving the Montreal Impact for Barcelona, where he’ll have a $31 million release clause which could grow to $93 million.
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Tabla, who turns 19 in March, sealed his desired European transfer, and clubs hardly get bigger than his destination (though he’s joining up with Barcelona B).
Ivorian-born, Tabla played at both left and right wing and midfield last season, scoring two goals with two assists for the Impact and five goals with three assists for Montreal’s USL side.
Montreal may be losing a talent, but what a feather in its cap:
“This first transfer is an important moment in the history and evolution of our club,” Montreal Impact president and owner Joey Saputo said in a statement. “We take a lot of pride in seeing a young player, developed in our academy, climb the ladder all the way to the first team and realize his dream to play in Europe with a big club like Barcelona.”
The loss of Swiss power Blerim Dzemaili is a big one for the Montreal Impact, but another World Cup player may be taking his place in Quebec.
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Tutto Bologna reports that Algerian playmaker Saphir Taider, 25, is set to sign with the Impact on a contract through 2020.
On loan to Montreal last season, Dzemaili went back to Bologna. Taider is coming back the other way and will reportedly be a Designated Player.
Taider isn’t as consistent a player as Dzemaili, but presents a skill set that should be a massive problem for MLS midfields.
He has 42 caps with five goals for Algeria, and was once property of Juventus. He spent parts of four seasons at Inter Milan, with loan stints back to Bologna, at Sassuolo, and a unremarkable time at Southampton.
The New York Red Bulls are in the market for a new playmaker, and it appears they’ve found from South America.
The Red Bulls are on the verge of signing Alejandro “El Kaku” Romero Gamarra, a 22-year-old attacking midfielder for Argentine side Huracan, for a $7 million transfer fee according to a report from TYC. The Argentine native played three times for the Argentina Under-20 Men’s National Team at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup and has played in Huracan’s first team since 2013.
All that’s remaining is for El Kaku to sign personal terms with the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls reportedly beat out Cruz Azul for the transfer of the Romero.
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If Romero signs for the Red Bulls, he’d replace Sacha Kljestan and countryman Gonzalo Veron, who was selected by D.C. United in the MLS Re-Entry Draft this week, and be following in the footsteps of MLS MVP and fellow Buenos Aires native Diego Valeri to MLS, albeit without European experience beforehand.
Here are some more reports, news and notes from around MLS:
Major League Soccer announced the home openers for each of its 23 teams on Tuesday.
The season begins March 3rd with a full day of matches beginning with an Easter Conference Finals rematch between Toronto FC and Columbus at BMO Field at 1 p.m. ET.
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Two clubs won’t play at home until April, with new boys Los Angeles FC unable christen their new joint until nearly May. Because of this, perhaps, both clubs will be the visitors for two other teams’ home openers.
Vancouver and Columbus know their home opening date, but have yet to learn the opponents.
And Montreal will open their home slate with a derby against Toronto FC.
Toronto vs. Columbus
Houston vs. Atlanta
Orlando City vs. DC United
FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake
Colorado vs. Chicago
San Jose vs. Minnesota
Philadelphia vs. New England
Seattle vs. LAFC
Sporting KC vs. New York City FC
LA Galaxy vs. Portland
Chicago vs. Sporting KC
New England vs. Colorado
Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC
New York Red Bulls vs. Portland
Atlanta vs. DC United
NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy
Montreal vs. Toronto
DC United vs. Houston
Minnesota United vs. Chicago
Portland vs. Minnesota
LAFC vs. Seattle
While he may not be one of the household names in Major League Soccer in terms of popularity, Laurent Ciman has easily become one of the league’s top defenders since coming to North America.
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The Montreal Impact center back arrived on the MLS scene back in 2015, and has spent the last three seasons with the Canadian side.
In that span, Ciman has not only allowed those within the MLS ranks, but also with his native Belgium, to which he has earned various call ups to the national team recently. He is also on track to make the Red Devils squad ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The 32-year-old has plans to remain with the Impact past 2018, when his contract expires, and Ciman says he hopes the club’s next manager — Remi Garde — will be able to assemble a quick turn around.
“My projects are based in the MLS. I have a year left with Montreal, and my goal is to extend my contract in North America after that,” said Ciman.
“Last season was disappointing, but I hope the new coach will give new momentum to the team.”
The Impact missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017 after the team lost nine of its last 10 regular season matches.